Todd Cogar - Baltimore, MD Real Estate, White Marsh, MD Real Estate, Dundalk, MD Real Estate

Even a first-time homebuyer can become an informed shopper, i.e. someone who understands the ins and outs of the housing market. In fact, some of the best ways to become informed as you move along the homebuying process include: 1. Determine How Much Money You'll Need. How much money do you have to spend on a home? Find out by getting pre-approved for a mortgage and establishing a homebuying budget. Pre-approval for a mortgage may help you speed up your journey from homebuyer to homeowner. And with the right homebuying budget, you'll be able to narrow your home search to residences that fall within a set price range. Plus, you'll be able to avoid the dangers associated with overspending for a home, along with the risk of falling behind on mortgage payments down the line. In addition, try to determine how much you'll need to cover the down payment, closing costs and other fees you may encounter during the homebuying process. By doing so, you'll be prepared to manage your expenses and ensure you have enough money to purchase your dream home. 2. Evaluate a Wide Range of Houses. Although you might fall in love with the first house you view, it is important to keep in mind that the real estate market is filled with a variety of exceptional residences. Therefore, if you spend some time attending open houses and home showings, you may be better equipped to find the right home quickly. For homebuyers, it usually is a great idea to create a list of must-haves for your house. This list will allow you to search for residences that fit specific criteria. Furthermore, don't forget that an informed homebuyer frequently asks questions as he or she assesses a residence. There is no such thing as a bad question to ask during an open house or home showing, and ensuring all of your concerns and queries are addressed is paramount in your quest to find the right home at the right price. 3. Collaborate with a Friendly, Experienced Real Estate Agent. When it comes to finding your dream home, who says you need to navigate the homebuying process alone? Instead, find a friendly, experienced real estate agent to guide you along the homebuying journey, and you can reap the benefits provided by a housing market expert. Your real estate agent will serve as a key contributor in your efforts to discover your ideal home quickly and effortlessly and will help take guesswork out of the homebuying process, too. Moreover, your real estate agent will be able to set up home showings, keep you up to date about new real estate listings in various cities and towns and provide comprehensive insights and resources into the housing market. As a result, this professional will make it simple for you to move along the homebuying process and guarantee you're satisfied with the end results. Be an informed homebuyer – use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble purchasing your dream residence.

A closing represents the final stage before a buyer acquires a house. At this point, a buyer and seller will meet and finalize an agreement. And if everything goes according to plan, a buyer will exit a closing as the owner of a new residence.

Ultimately, there are several steps that a buyer should complete to prepare for a home closing, and these are:

1. Review Your Home Financing

Typically, a lender will provide full details about your monthly mortgage payments for the duration of your home loan. This information is important, as it highlights exactly how much that you will be paying for your house.

Assess your home loan information prior to a closing. That way, if you have any home loan concerns or questions, you can address them before your closing day arrives.

If you allocate the necessary time and resources to review your home financing, you may be able to alleviate stress prior to closing day. In fact, once you know that all of your home financing is in order, you can enter a closing with the confidence that you'll be able to cover your mortgage expenses.

2. Perform a Final Walk-Through

A final walk-through provides a last opportunity to evaluate a residence before you complete your purchase. Thus, you will want to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that a seller has completed any requested repairs and guarantee that a house matches your expectations.

Oftentimes, a final walk-through requires only a few minutes to complete. The inspection generally may be completed a few days before a closing as well.

It is essential to keep in mind, however, that a final walk-through won't always go according to plan. If you give yourself plenty of time for a final walk-through, you should have no trouble getting the best-possible results.

Try to schedule a final walk-through at least a week before a closing. By doing so, you'll ensure that a seller can perform any requested repairs prior to closing day.

3. Get Your Paperwork Ready

During a home closing, you'll likely need to provide proof of home insurance, a government-issued photo ID and other paperwork. If you get required documents ready ahead of time, you won't have to scramble at the last minute to retrieve assorted paperwork for your closing.

If you need help preparing for a home closing, there is no need to worry. Real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market professionals can guide you along each stage of the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent will help you find a house, submit an offer on it and conduct a house inspection. Plus, this housing market professional can provide recommendations throughout the homebuying process to help you achieve your desired results. And as closing day approaches, a real estate agent is available to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions too.

Prepare for a home closing – follow the aforementioned steps, and you can seamlessly navigate the home closing process.

While some home improvement projects are done purely for aesthetic reasons, window replacement projects offer a wide range of benefits.

If your current windows are decades old, they're probably difficult to clean, provide poor insulation, and get stuck every time you try to raise or lower them.

Old wooden window frames also tend to deteriorate over time, which negatively impacts both their appearance and their ability to seal out drafts and outdoor temperatures.

Modern, energy-efficient windows make older models look like they're straight out of the Stone Age! Many windows manufactured today meet strict U.S. government standards for energy efficiency and durability, which can help you save money on your home energy bills. These new features include multiple panes of glass, which provide improved insulation and impact resistance. Instead of using just plain air, many of these advanced windows are insulated with non-toxic gases, such as argon and krypton. (As long as you're not Superman, you'll do just fine!) If you're willing to pay extra, there's also the option of having mini-blinds inserted between the panes of glass.

Reducing Home Energy Costs

According to the EPA, "Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house's carbon footprint."

Energy Star-certified windows also have special coatings that reflect both infrared and ultraviolet light. That not only helps keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, but it helps stop the sun's rays from fading furniture colors, flooring, and other materials.

Some of the newer windows are available with three or more layers of glass panes, which can help make your home more comfortable and quieter. If external noise is an issue, installing well-insulated windows with multiple panes can reduce that problem significantly.

Although many of the new window products are constructed of wood, they're often covered with vinyl or aluminum to be more weather resistant and durable. Fiberglass is another low-maintenance, durable material that offers good insulation qualities.

Cost Versus Benefits

While a window replacement project can take a big chunk out of your home improvement budget or bank account, it does provide a return on your investment. In addition to the fact that your home energy costs should decrease, installing new, energy-efficient windows will improve your home's marketability in the future. If and when you decide to put your home on the market, the fact that you've installed energy-efficient, easy-to-use window replacements will be a major selling point in the minds of prospective buyers.

As is the case with all home improvement contractors, it's always a good idea to get several estimates and check references, read online reviews, and take a look at Better Business Bureau ratings before choosing someone to handle the project.

Preparing to list a house can be a stressful time for any home seller. Fortunately, we're here to help you alleviate stress as you get ready to add your home to the real estate market.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you minimize stress as you prepare to list your residence.

1. Reach Out to Family Members and Friends for Help

Family members and friends generally are ready to lend a helping hand whenever they can. As such, you should reach out to loved ones to help you reduce stress as you get ready to sell your house.

Remember, family members and friends have your best interests in mind. These loved ones will do whatever they can to assist you, even tough jobs like helping you clean your residence or remove clutter. Thus, you can work with family members and friends to ensure you can prepare your residence for the real estate market in no time at all.

2. Don't Hesitate to Contact Professionals

Perhaps one of the best ways for a home seller to minimize stress is to hire professional assistance. Because if you have professionals at your disposal, you can get the help you need to instantly enhance your house.

Whether it's home cleaners, landscapers or other professionals, you can quickly and effortlessly find plenty of top-notch professionals in your area to help you complete various home upgrades. If you hire any of these professionals today, you can accelerate the process of prepping your house for the real estate market.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

If you intend to sell your house and want to get the best-possible results, you should hire a real estate agent. With a real estate agent at your side, you can receive expert support to help you manage stress at each stage of the home selling journey.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you to learn about you and your home selling goals. He or she then will craft a personalized home selling strategy designed to help you accomplish your desired results as quickly as possible. Plus, a real estate agent can offer plenty of tips to help you upgrade your residence prior to adding it to the housing market.

A real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty throughout the home selling cycle too. He or she will set up open houses and home showings, promote your residence to the right groups of buyers and help you review offers to purchase your residence. Furthermore, if you ever have concerns or questions during the home selling journey, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them.

Stress can be problematic, particularly for a home seller who is unsure about how to prep his or her residence for the real estate market. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you should have no trouble improving your residence and ensuring it stands out to potential buyers.

Vinyl siding can be a an area of intense debate in construction circles. There are many advantages and disadvantages to buying a home with vinyl siding or in deciding to install it on your home. Here, we’ll break down the pros and cons of the popular siding material and how to decide if it’s right for your home. Over the years, advancement in the makeup of vinyl and advances in the technology itself has made it a more popular choice among home owners and builders. Vinyl was introduced in the 1950’s as a replacement for aluminum siding. Originally, vinyl was notorious for fading, cracking and buckling. Now, the material has been perfected to a new, higher standard. Advantages To Vinyl Siding:
  • Cedar is 2 1/2 times more expensive than than vinyl
  • Vinyl siding never needs to be painted
  • Easy to install
  • The material is versatile
  • The color will outlast paint
  • Water resistant
  • Helps to prevent damage from rain and snow
The biggest advantage of vinyl siding is the fact that it simply needs to be power washed from time to time and painting is not necessary. While power washing is an expense, it’s still less expensive than painting the entire house every five years. In the right conditions, the siding also usually holds its color for a long, long period of time. However, there are always exceptions to these rules. Cons Of Vinyl Siding:
  • There’s no time frame of how long vinyl siding will last
  • The durability of vinyl siding depends upon how the material itself
  • Vinyl siding is often installed over old siding, so existing problems could still remain
  • It’s flammable, so grills and other items could pose a hazard
  • It may be hard to find a replacement piece in a matching color when you need it
  • The siding could increase your home’s chances of developing mold on the outside
  • Susceptible to cracks
  • Seasonal maintenance is required
The cons listed above are mere warnings of the problems that could arise when vinyl siding is installed. There are pretty strict construction codes surrounding the installation of siding to help prevent these problems, yet, you should keep them in mind. The problems that could arise with siding also depend upon the type of material that’s used to make the siding. It’s good to do some investigating before you fully decide on the best material for your home’s exterior So, while vinyl siding isn’t a foolproof choice for a damage-free home, it does have some significant advantages over wood siding and paint. Depending upon the climate you live in and the type of look that you’re going for on your home, the decision is ultimately up to you.